Whitstable support worker almost ignored random invite to early life-saving cancer screening

A Whitstable woman almost ignored the letter which randomly picked her in a trial for an early breast cancer screening which saved her life.

Sally Powell, 50, was invited by NHS East Kent Hospital’s University to a check at a mobile unit in the car park of her local Tesco store.

Usually only women over the age of 50 are invited to breast screenings.

Above: Sally Powell

Sally, was 47 at the time and was amongst a group of 50% of women aged between 47 and 49 in the UK who, by luck were picked.

The support worker almost didn’t go because she was working.

She tried to rearrange the appointment but was told it would have to be at Kent and Canterbury Hospital (KCH) – where her mum died in 2001.

Sally – who had the screening in 2015 – said: “I was certainly not prepared to go there.

“I was about to turn down the invite and hang up the call when I remembered my friends Mum who had been diagnosed with cancer the week before and a voice saying ‘do it for her’.”

A week after her screening at the car park, Sally got a recall letter and within two weeks she went to KCH for an ultrasound scan and biopsies. The scan found what they thought could be precancerous cells.

Above: The letter Sally recieved

Despite not having any symptoms, one week later Sally received the news that she had an aggressive breast cancer – DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) and the doctors recommended a mastectomy. Sally said: “I felt like a truck had hit me.

“Weirdly it wasn’t the word ‘cancer’ which alarmed me, but ‘mastectomy’ hit me hard and shock doesn’t begin to cover it.

“I was devastated.”

Chemotherapy was unnecessary as the cancer had not spread to her lymphatic system.

Sally was told by her mastectomy surgeon on August 18 2015 that the cancer was high grade and would become invasive in 6-12 months. After her breast was removed, the doctors found the cancer had invaded the breast tissue and radiotherapy would be needed.

In October 2015 Sally started her radiotherapy. She said: “The recovery was tough and for so many months I felt low.

“I was so lucky to be selected for an invite at the earliest age.

“I feel blessed and very grateful.”

Sally wants to highlight the importance of not ignoring the letter – it can save lives.

One thought on “Whitstable support worker almost ignored random invite to early life-saving cancer screening

  • 17th May 2018 at 3:47 pm

    This applies to cervical screening. I nearly missed mine many years ago as I was busy bringing up two toddlers on my own. A friend was going for hers so we looked after each others children while being tested. This saved my life as the results were cancerous. I had a hysterectomy and follow up appointments. This was over 30 years ago.


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